Niseko Ski Resort

Niseko Resort is located on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, about two hours outside of the 1972 Winter Olympic host city of Sapporo. Niseko Ski Resort should probably be referred to as Niseko Ski Resorts, plural, as it is comprised of three broad interconnected areas: Niseko Grand Hirafu, Niseko Higashiyama (recently being called Niseko Village) and Niseko Annupuri, each having its own village.

Niseko Resort has come to be considered Japan’s number one ski resort by foreign skiers in a relatively short time. The three areas have fully catered to us outsiders responding quickly by adapting operations and changing their traditional rules of no off-piste skiing, allowing the massive amounts of powder to be skied.

Niseko is promoted as having an annual snowfall averaging 15 meters! This is not a heavily padded “marketing” number. The ski resorts have the recorded statistics to back it up and gladly publish it. Cold air blows in from Siberia across the Sea of Japan, hits Niseko and dumps, and dumps so consistently that there is nothing that rivals it in the rest of the ski world.

The Niseko ski area is situated on Mt. Niseko Annupuri which rises to an altitude of 1,308m / 4290ft from it’s base elevation of 300m / 985ft Niseko is by far the largest ski area on Hokkaido with 38 lifts and 60 runs providing a skiable area of 890 hectares / 2,190 acres. Its vertical of 940m / 3083ft is mostly within tree line which is a good thing with such heavy snowfalls as the trees offer great definition. And mother nature has taken care of us skiers as the tree cover is superbly spaced bone-white birch and wooly pine whose branches collect little snow and provide confidence inspiring tree skiing for all levels.


Niseko Skiing Deep Powder Another unique aspect of skiing Japan is the availability of night skiing. Niseko has possibly the best night skiing in the world, open until 9 pm every night, with virtually the whole area floodlit. With the lights underneath any cloud, the visibility is much better at night and a great benefit if your visibility has been poor during the day. Imagine skiing fresh powder late into the evening!


The most western located ski resort of the tri-area, Niseko Annapuri features some wide-open runs separated by small patches of trees. The resort has one gondola and a number of quad lifts, and has a somewhat dated feel that echoes the earlier heyday of Japan’s ski peak in the mid-1980s.

Niseko Higashiyama, the middle resort, now being re-branded Niseko Village, is dominated at its base by the Prince Hotel, a property that carries a distinct, all-inclusive vibe that’ll likely change in eventually as Hilton recently acquired the property and plans extensive renovations. The resort’s high-speed gondola launches from the back door of the hotel, accessing runs for all skill sets.

The Easternmost resort, Niseko Grand Hirafu is easily the most western in appearance and terrain, a gondola, several high-speed mid-mountain lifts, a terrain park, spectacular out-of-bounds tree skiing, and a wide variety of runs, including the double-black Super, a knee-pumping mogul run.
Off-piste options at Hirafu include a relatively easy, 20-minute hike up to summit, where you can ski back in-bounds, to longer excursions off the north side of the mountain, where skilled guides can likely lead you to waist-deep powder even days after the last snowfall.


Niseko Grand Hirafu has the largest and most lively village base of the three areas; a couple minutes walk from the ski area base and the handful of ski-in/ski-out hotels. This is where we like to base ourselves for great evenings out sampling the local cuisine and entertainment. The bars and restaurants tend to be unique, often not much more than a simple shed or garage turned into a basic pub.

The village of Hirafu is also the most western populated area having been made popular by Australians over the past 8 or so years. So you will find lots of English hear to help you get around unlike the other Japan ski resorts. It lends itself to being a good starting point in regards to easing your way into a culture where the food and written language give few clues as to what you are eating!



In central Hokkaido  they average 9 metres of snow in just 4 months!!  In western Hokkaido they receive a whopping 15 metres of snow!

These amounts of snow are NOT marketing numbers - it’s for real. The reason is…

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